Many people are taking steps to make their lives more sustainable in a bid to save the planet from the climate crisis. Large corporations like Starbucks and Alaska Airlines have even pledged to eliminate the use of plastic straws to reduce the amount of plastic waste they produce. 

Workplaces should be no different. Here’s how to promote sustainability in the workplace. 

1. Introduce and implement a recycling program

Employees produce a lot of waste, of which a fair amount can actually be recycled. Examples include plastic forks, some takeaway containers, and documents printed out on paper. 

Some recycling centers will recycle things that curbside recycling won’t, like soft plastics, but there usually has to be a good amount to be taken. In an office where a lot of people produce paper/plastic waste, this minimum should be easy to meet. 

Some things to remember:

  • Educate staff and leave reminders about rules for recycling (no soiled or wet cardboard, no soft plastics with hard plastics, etc.)
  • Don’t recycle wishfully (“I hope that this can be recycled, so I’ll just put it in the bin”) as this can cause problems at the recycling center
  • Separate recyclables 

2. Make conserving energy an office-wide attitude

Offices use a lot of electricity – like air conditioning, lights, heating, devices plugged in all the time. It’s easy to see that conserving energy should be on everyone’s mind. 

Some easy ways to do this are:

  • Where possible, turn off anything that uses electricity when not in use
  • Where possible, be in an area with other people rather than sitting alone so that electricity isn’t wasted on multiple areas
  • Switch to energy-saving appliances as much as possible

3. Cut down on paper usage

Even if paper is recyclable, trees are still cut down to make it, so it’s better that the task be done digitally. In this day and age, pretty much nothing has to be on paper. Instead, use dedicated software where possible.

4. Upcycle and reuse items

Having reusable dishware and cutlery in the office will encourage staff to use reusable rather than single-use items. Additionally, old fabric can be used in the office as rags to keep staff’s desks or the cafeteria clean. 

There are many ways to upcycle and repurpose old items, all it takes is some creativity.

5. Encourage better transport choices

Transportation to and from the office can often look like every employee having their own car. While it might be the only option for some employees, here are some great ways to encourage better transport choices:

  • Incentivizing walking or taking a bike (discounts/coupons/gift cards for running shoes or bicycles)
  • Incentivizing taking public transport (providing metro cards/bus passes etc.)
  • Encouraging carpooling

The benefits of being kinder to the planet aren’t just for the present, but for the future. Everyone can do their part to be more environmentally conscious, even at work.